Women in Iceland Still Bear the Brunt of Domestic Labour

Women in Iceland are more likely than men to reduce their paid work hours in order to do unpaid work within the household. Women are also more likely to extend their parental leave than men and bear more responsibility when it comes to communicating with their children’s schools. Eight per cent of men never worry about household chores or childcare.

These findings are from a recent study conducted by Varða, a labour market research institute in Iceland. The study examines how couples balance work and family life and is based on a survey of parents with children 1-12 years old. Heimildin reported first.

Women more likely to work part-time

The study shows that women are more likely to work part-time than men: 68% of mothers were working full-time compared to 96% of fathers. The main reason mothers were working part-time was to make it easier to balance work and family duties. Women bore more responsibility for childcare after parental leave, did more of the communication with schools and after-school centres than men, and were more likely to worry about household tasks and childcare while at work than men. Women had also chosen their careers in order to facilitate balancing family and professional life to a greater extent than men.

Despite having one of the highest women’s employment rates in the world and scoring highly on many measures of gender equality, women in Iceland are more likely to reduce their paid working hours than men in Iceland. Women also bear the brunt of household chores and child-rearing and household management, or the so-called second and third shift.

Balance between work and family affects health

The survey asked parents how often they worry about household tasks and childcare when they are at work. A much higher percentage of women than men reported having such worries on a daily basis (43%) compared to men (27.7%). A higher percentage of men reported never having such worries (8%) compared to women (4.8%).

Varða’s report points to research showing that a balance between family and professional life, or a lack thereof, can have a decisive impact on health, both mental and physical. Studies have also shown that a good work-family balance increases people’s job satisfaction and work capacity.

Read more about the women’s rights movement in Iceland and Iceland’s recent shortening of the work week.

Estimated Damage in Grindavík ISK 10 Billion

grindavík evacuation

The damage to homes and infrastructure in Grindavík could amount to ISK 10 billion [$71.4 million, €66.3 million], according to the director of the Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland. Before paying out damages, authorities must reconsider the town’s zoning plan and whether some areas will be deemed no longer safe for residential housing. The town has been evacuated since November 10, after seismic activity and a magma dike opened crevasses and damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure.

230 Grindavík properties damaged

All buildings in Iceland are insured against natural disasters and insurance premiums are collected alongside fire insurance. The Natural Catastrophe Insurance of Iceland, a public institution tasked with insuring the main value of properties against natural disasters, has received reports of damage to 230 properties in Grindavík. So far, 140 of them have been inspected and the institution’s director Hulda Ragnheiður Árnadóttir stated she hopes the remaining 90 will be inspected by the end of the week.

Zoning reconsidered in Grindavík

The seismic events in Grindavík began in late October and earthquakes and land deformation continued over several weeks. Land deformation is still ongoing at Svartsengi, north of Grindavík. Hulda Ragnheiður says the circumstances of the damage are unusual as it occurred over a relatively long period of time. “That’s why it’s difficult to start paying out damages while it hasn’t been decided which areas are suitable for habitation.”

Experts have stated that Grindavík is at risk of further earthquakes and eruptions in the coming weeks and months and it is still unclear when it will be safe for the town’s 3,600 residents to return home. In some areas where damage has occurred, authorities may decide to ban rebuilding due to ongoing risk.

“I think it’s inevitable that the layout of the town will change in some way,” Hulda Ragnheiður stated. “All of the decisions that will be made are in the jurisdiction of the municipality of Grindavík in collaboration with scientists and the government. We will receive the information that comes out of that and process it.”

Icelandic Police Officers Order Stripper During Work Trip in Poland

police station Hlemmur

Three policewomen from Reykjavík Metropolitan Police ordered the services of a male stripper during a work trip in Poland, RÚV reports. They were there attending a course on hate crimes and extremism that included a visit to Auschwitz. Reykjavík’s Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir has refused to tell reporters whether the three women are still employed in the police service.

Took and shared pictures

According to RÚV’s sources, the incident occurred just after the course had finished. The policewomen were transferring hotels and had a male stripper in the car they were being transported in. The policewomen took pictures of the entertainment and sent them to their colleagues. Around 100 police officers from Iceland attended the course, some 15% of all Icelandic police, as well as a few lawyers.

Unknown whether officers face consequences

Reykjavík’s Chief of Police Halla Bergþóra Björnsdóttir stated that the conduct of the officers in question is being reviewed and is considered a serious incident. She refused to comment on whether the policewomen had been suspended or were still on the job, citing privacy regulations.

In an interview on Rás 1, lawyer and former MP Helga Vala Helgadóttir stressed the importance of investigating the incident thoroughly. “Who was this person who was bought? What is that person’s background? We know who works these jobs elsewhere in the world, often these are victims of human trafficking.”

Reykjavík to Address Short-Term Rental Market Disruption

iceland refugees

The number of apartments available for short-term rental in Reykjavík has risen sharply in recent years, paralleling the increased flow of foreign tourists into the country. Many such apartments are owned and operated by companies rather than individuals. Due to a regulatory change from 2018, companies do not have to register such units as commercial properties, allowing them to evade higher property taxes and making them harder for municipalities to track. RÚV reported first.

Short-term rentals occupy entire buildings

Kristrún Frostadóttir, chairperson of the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), voiced her concerns about the impact of short-term rentals during a question period in Parliament last week. She pointed out that many apartment buildings that had been zoned as residential were largely, or entirely, occupied by short-term rentals. This has a negative impact on the real estate market, according to Kristrún. The MP also pointed out the difficulties municipalities face due to these apartments not being registered as commercial properties.

As noted by RÚV, the regulation was altered during Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir’s tenure as Minister of Tourism. Speaking before Parliament yesterday, Þórdís stated that she had considered updating the regulation but stressed the need for municipal responsibility.

“Given the recent media reports, it’s apparent that the situation is not ideal. I urge the honourable member of Parliament to consult with her peers at Reykjavík City Council about managing Airbnb activities in the capital,” Þórdís stated.

Reykjavík seeks regulatory amendment

Reykjavík Mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson described the 2018 regulatory change as problematic. He stated that it made it more difficult to track short-term rentals and enforced regulations, “especially our ban on year-round short-term rentals in residential areas. We advocate for reverting this legislation and maintain that local authorities should oversee this sector, currently managed by the district commissioner,” Dagur told RÚV.

Dagur also mentioned his intention, on behalf of the city, to formally request Tourism Minister Lilja Alfreðsdóttir to amend the regulation. “Addressing such issues, where regulations lead to unintended consequences, is a crucial collaborative effort,” he added.